Where to start? How about a link to my very-rushed game story on deadline. You can read it here.
I’m also planning a live chat Wednesday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. I’ll have a link up tomorrow morning. I hope you can be there to discuss the game.
* Plenty to talk about in the game, but there’s some news to report first. Cornerback Jayron Hosley is going pro. He told reporters in the locker room after the game. I got there a touch late to get Hosley but colleague Mark Giannotto of the Washington Post reports Hosley said he was told by the NFL draft advisory board that he’d be a first- or second-round selection. “It’s gonna be tough walking away but I got to do what I got to do,” Hosley said. “I think I handled my business pretty well.”
* Running back David Wilson said he will make his NFL decision known soon but was not prepared to say anything to reporters after the game.
* Now to the game. Head coach Frank Beamer summed up the team’s feeling with this quote: “I’m about half sick right now.”
* Let’s work our way backward. Senior kicker Justin Myer‘s 37-yard field goal in overtime sailed wide right, a tough way for things to finish, considering everything Myer did to get the Hokies there. The kickoff specialist, who moved up the depth chart after Cody Journell‘s arrest for felony breaking and entering Dec. 22 and Tyler Weiss‘ curfew issue the first night in New Orleans, made field goals of 37, 43, 36 and 25 yards, tying for the second-most field goals in Sugar Bowl history. But he had the overtime miss, which sailed wide right. “I just pushed it,” he said. “I mean, initially I thought I hit it good, but when I pulled my head up it was just one of those things that didn’t go the way I wanted it to.”
* Quarterback Logan Thomas hadn’t had a chance to talk to Myer immediately after the game but told reporters what he’ll tell him: “Without you we wouldn’t even have been in that position in the first place.” Myer was pretty dejected afterward, but he stayed and answered all questions from reporters in a very stand-up move. “It sucks right now, but eventually I’ll get over it,” he said. Beamer on Myer: “I told him he did a heck of a job.”
* Receiver Danny Coale summed up Myer’s contributions well. “He played awesome,” Coale said. “He gave us the points that we had. He put us in position to win at the end. It shouldn’t have come down to a field goal, and I absolutely don’t agree that it did come down to a field goal. The messed up punt. The missed opportunities. The penalties. That’s what led it to be a close game.”
* Now, the most-talked about play of the overtime: Coale’s diving catch/non-catch in the corner of the end zone. First of all, a very athletic play by a senior in his last college game. Coale snagged it with one hand, pulled it close and came down with his elbow/shoulder very close to the white line. Originally ruled a touchdown by officials, it was overturned, although I don’t believe the officials said why at the time, just that it was incomplete. Here’s the replay. You make the call. “Danny’s play is so close,” Beamer said. “And it seemed like there was just quite a few of those there tonight, so close but just didn’t quite have it go our way.”
* Thomas thought it was a great catch. “From the two angles we saw, I guess we thought it was a touchdown,” Thomas said. “And we couldn’t see any other way, because inconclusive evidence or whatever it was, but I guess the official saw something. So, I mean, it’s tough. But just to know that we were that close.” Wilson, as you’d expect, had an opinion on the play: “I don’t think there was clear evidence to reverse the call.”
* Coale thought that since it was ruled a touchdown on the field, it’d be hard to overturn. “They saw some things and overturned it,” he said. “It’s in the ref’s hands. What can you do?” Coale, it should be noted, had eight catches for 117 yards. How does he reconcile the non-catch be the last play of his career? “It’s awful,” he said. “I’ve been part of some close games, some wacky ones, some bizarre ones, but for this one to be my last one to go down like that, to come up short is hard.”
* Now for some stats that will drive Virginia Tech fans crazy looking back at this loss. The Hokies out-gained the Wolverines 372-179. They held Denard Robinson to 13 yards on 13 carries, his lowest total as a starter. They held him to 9-for-21 passing, intercepting him once. They held running back Fitzgerald Toussaint to 25 rushing yards. They held Michigan to 4 of 12 on third downs. They had a 36:48 to 23:10 advantage in time of possession. And they lost. The entire game was a stunning statistical oddity. “This is probably the most hurt I’ve ever been after a game because I really put my heart into it,” defensive end James Gayle said. “But, it sucks to lose like this.”
* The outcome occurred because of a litany of mistakes, penalties and baffling play-calls throughout by the Hokies. Here’s but a few of them:
- Virginia Tech went for it on fourth-and-1 from the Michigan 4 in the second quarter, leading 6-0. Thomas got stuffed on a sneak, a call I don’t think Hokies had a problem with considering how well Thomas runs in those situations. It still killed momentum.
- James Hopper was called for a roughing the punter penalty on the ensuing Michigan drive, keeping things alive for Robinson to throw a 45-yard touchdown pass to Junior Hemingway on a pass safety Eddie Whitley whiffed on going for the pick.
- Tony Gregory fumbled the kickoff after that in the final minute of the first half. He apparently was already scheduled for ACL surgery after the season and was in sweats for the second half of the game, making one wonder why he was out there in the first place.
- After Thomas threw a bad pick, Hosley got called for pass interference to negate an interception of his own. “I think I was in position,” Hosley said. “I was looking back for the ball, we both were looking back for the ball. He happened to fall and I got a pick. I guess it is what it is. I’m not mad but I thought they were big plays. The refs thought otherwise.”
- The fake punt by Coale near the end. Virginia Tech had the ball near midfield. It was fourth-and-1 with the game tied at 17. The Hokies called for a punt, but Coale rolled right in a rugby style kick before attempting to turn upfield with a run. Michigan stuffed it immediately. “It was an option: run or kick,” Beamer said. “I thought it was good, it was a short, it was a yard. And if they dropped off, had a little seam, we were going to go for the first. If not, we’re going to kick it and try and pin them down deep. So we had that option going. And their guy did a nice job. He looked like he was going to go outside and all of a sudden jumped back in underneath and got us.” Virginia Tech doesn’t do a lot of rugby-style punting, but Beamer said the Hokies have worked on it the last three weeks. “If it’s going to be less than 5 [yards], we really planned to do that,” he said.
- More on that from Coale: “If there was an opening I could run it; if there was pressure in my face I should punt it, and I should have punted it. I thought I could get 1 yard. Then I thought I saw an opening, but it closed quickly. I should have punted it. It was my fault. That wasn’t coach Beamer’s fault at all. That was my fault.”
* Virginia Tech had some legitimate gripes with a few calls. Obviously, the touchdown catch that wasn’t by Coale in overtime will be long debated, but there were a few others:
- On Michigan’s fake field goal just before halftime. It appeared kicker Brendan Gibbons took a step forward before the kick. “I moved a little bit,” he said. “Not really. But it’s kind of like my false step approach.”
- Hosley’s two interceptions-that-weren’t were very close. The first was overturned when officials say the ball hit the ground. “I believe I caught that ball,” he said. “They didn’t show the replay but I believe I caught it. I guess the ref seen otherwise. ” The second, as mentioned before, Hosley thought was a questionable pass interference call.
- Wilson believes he was not down on a fourth-quarter run right before the Coale fake punt. Officials ruled he was down on a carry for zero yards, but he kept going, thinking his knee hadn’t touched. The entire Hokies sideline seemed to agree.
- Wilson, who I didn’t have a chance to talk to except for something brief about his NFL decision, but is always one to speak his mind, didn’t seem pleased with the officiating.
* Virginia Tech had red zone issues all night. The Hokies scored on four out of five trips inside Michigan’s 20, but three of them were field goals. They stalled near the goal line, not breaking a 95-minute, 22-second touchdown drought that dated back to the first quarter of the Clemson loss in the ACC title game until Thomas scored on a 1-yard sneak. “They did a great job defending us,” Thomas said. “Just couldn’t pick up the short yardage when we needed to.”
* That said, Thomas still thinks it was more Virginia Tech not executing than anything: “They weren’t stopping us. We were stopping ourselves.”
* A couple records fell. Thomas, who accounted for 267 yards Tuesday, finished with 3,482 yards of offense this year, breaking Tyrod Taylor‘s record of 3,402 set last year. He also became the second player in Virginia Tech history to top the 3,000-yard mark in a season, joining Don Strock in 1972. Thomas finished with 3,013 passing yards, second to Strock’s 3,243.
* Wilson, meanwhile, darted past Ryan Williams‘ single-season school rushing record of 1,655 yards. Wilson had 82 in the game, giving him 1,709 for the year. He accomplished the feat in 14 games. Williams only had 13 games in 2009. “The credit goes to everybody, not just me,” Wilson said.
* Michigan’s Junior Hemingway was named the Most Outstanding Player. He had two catches for 63 yards. Both went for touchdowns, making him the first receiver since Virginia Tech’s Josh Morgan in 2005 to haul in two touchdown catches in the Sugar Bowl.
* The ACC fell to 2-12 in BCS games. Beamer was hoping to represent the league better as its first at-large pick. “Well, we didn’t get a win,” he said. “We need wins. And, again, it wasn’t because of lack of effort by these guys. It wasn’t because we didn’t prepare. I thought we worked hard for this game. The kids made great preparation. … We haven’t done as well as we want to in these BCS games. But you give Michigan credit. I mean, they hung in there and battled and hung on, and they certainly never slowed down.”